India police search NewsClick journalists’ homes and offices

NEW DELHI — Indian police raided the offices of a news website that is under investigation for allegedly receiving funds from China, as well as the homes of several of its journalists, in what critics described as an attack on one of India’s few remaining independent news outlets.

The raids came months after Indian authorities searched the BBC’s New Delhi and Mumbai offices over accusations of tax evasion in February.

NewsClick, founded in 2009, is known as one of only a few news outlets in India that is willing to criticize Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.

Indian authorities registered a case against the site and its journalists on Aug. 17, weeks after a New York Times report alleged that the website had received funds from an American millionaire who, The Times wrote, has funded the spread of “Chinese propaganda.” NewsClick has denied the charges.

BBC documentary on PM Modi draws ire in India

The case was filed under a wide-ranging anti-terrorism law that allows charges for “anti-national activities” and has been used against activists, journalists and critics of Modi, some of whom have spent years in jail before going to trial. No one has been arrested in connection with NewsClick so far.

At least two journalists whose houses were raided by the Delhi police confirmed their devices were seized.

“Delhi police landed at my home. Taking away my laptop and phone,” journalist Abhisar Sharma wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The Delhi police did not immediately respond to a request for a comment, but India’s junior minister for information and broadcasting, Anurag Thakur, told reporters that “if anyone has committed anything wrong, search agencies are free to carry out investigations against them.”

In August, Thakur accused NewsClick of spreading an “anti-India agenda,” citing The New York Times, and of working with the opposition Indian National Congress. Both NewsClick and the Congress party denied the accusations.

Under Modi’s rule, several news organizations have been investigated by government agencies for financial impropriety, raising fears about shrinking press freedom in India. Reporters Without Borders, an advocacy group for journalists, ranked the country 161st in its press freedom rankings this year, writing that the situation in the country has deteriorated from “problematic” to “very bad.”

The Press Club of India said it was “deeply concerned about the multiple raids conducted on the houses of journalists and writers associated with NewsClick.”

“The PCI stand in solidarity with the journalists and demands the government to come out with details,” it wrote in a statement on X.

Ties between India and China have been strained since 2020, when clashes between the two militaries in a disputed border area killed at least 20 Indian troops and four Chinese soldiers. Since then, New Delhi has banned many Chinese-owned apps, including TikTok, and launched tax inquiries into some Chinese mobile phone companies.

The Modi administration has also introduced rules that require government approval for investments by companies from China and other countries that neighbor India.


Share This Post

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.